wikiHow to Get Accepted Into Physical Therapy Schools

Two Parts:Getting Ready Before Your ApplyApplying to a Program

Physical therapy (PT) is a demanding and competitive field. PT is the treatment of injury or pain through exercise or other corrective means. As part of the health profession, physical therapists must understand anatomy, biology, medical diagnosis, and physics, as well as the treatments for common ailments. These programs can be hard to get into, but there are some steps you can take to make you a perfect candidate to get accepted into PT schools.

Part 1
Getting Ready Before Your Apply

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    Take the right courses. If you know that you want to be in a health-related field like PT, you will have the opportunity to prove your interest and knowledge of the topics that are necessary for a PT degree. There are certain classes that are common requirement in your undergraduate career to make you the best candidate for a graduate program in PT. However, if you know the program you want to get into, make sure you check their specific requirements. Common courses include:
    • Anatomy and physiology.
    • All levels of biology.
    • Chemistry.
    • Physics.
    • Psychology.
    • English.[1]
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    Maintain a high GPA. Since PT programs are so competitive, you need to make sure you look as good on paper as possible. Many or most PT schools use GPA as a highly weighed deciding factor for admission. The average GPA tends to be from 3.5 to 3.8.
    • If you are having a hard time keeping your GPA up, think about tutoring, taking summer classes to devote more time to one class, or studying more. Since the programs are so competitive, your GPA needs to be as high as possible.[2][3]
    • Most PT programs have minimum GPA requirements, so check the program you are interested in to know what GPA to aspire to.
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    Worry less about your major. There is no specific major that PT schools look for when accepting a student. However, since you are taking so many classes in the sciences, it is likely that a major that relates to science would make your degree easier on you. This way, you won't have to take too many classes outside the sciences to complete your major.
    • There are some common majors, which include biology, psychology, exercise science, and kinesiology.[4]
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    Get as much experience as possible. PT school is not easy. You should also be prepared to work hard in mentally and physically demanding classes. They are also highly competitive. Many schools choose only 30 students from over 200 to 600 applicants. You need to find ways to gain experience and work hard in order to be accepted into a physical therapy graduate program. Programs are typically looking for around 100 observational hours in a variety of settings.[5]
    • Find ways to get either volunteer or paid experience with a licensed physical therapist. Look into surrounding hospitals, physical therapy clinics, nursing homes, or other healthcare establishments to find somewhere to get observational experience.
    • These experiences are often required for program. Make sure your hours are verified by the licensed therapist you observe.[6]
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    Keep up to date in the profession. As you work toward applying for PT school, you need to keep up to date in what is going on in the profession. Read current journals about the new practices that are happening in the field. Learn about the specialties that the field offers so you know the options for your future and what you might want to specialize in.
    • Figure out what about the field makes you want to pursue it. This will help you later when you are asked that kind of question in an admissions interview.[7]

Part 2
Applying to a Program

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    Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). When you are getting ready for applications, which is typically during your last year of your undergraduate degree, you need to take the GRE. The necessary score needed for your program will vary depending on the school that you apply to, but the scores range from 130-170 for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning and 0 to 6 for Analytical Writing. You can arrange to take the GRE through your school or go to the Education Testing Service's website to find local testing centers.[8][9]
    • If you don't make the score that you need the first time around, there are preparatory classes you can take or books that you can get to help you increase your scores. There are also free test prep questions on the Educational Testing Service's website.[10]
    • Even if you haven't picked a school yet, you need to go ahead and take the GRE as soon as possible. The earlier you take it, the more time you have to retake it if you need higher scores.
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    Find the right program for you. Before you apply, you need to make sure you have the right program. When looking for the right school for you, look at the location of the school, the requirements for their PT program, the cost of the program, and any funding available. You also need to make sure that the program you are looking at is accredited in whatever country the school is in.
    • Being accredited means that the country where the school is located recognizes it as a legitimate school that had the qualifications to provide you with the skills and coursework necessary for your degree.
    • If you end up getting a degree at a school with no accreditation, your degree may be worthless.[11][12]
    • Each physical therapy school is slightly different. All schools will list their application requirements online or in their brochures. You may want to choose a school that aligns with your experience and qualifications.
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    Ask for letters of recommendation. Almost all graduate programs require letters of recommendation from professors and professionals who can attest to your skills and merits as an individual, a student, and a future physical therapist. Try to make a great impression on the therapists you work with and the professors that you study under. Then, you can ask them for letters of recommendation that will be filled with praise for you.
    • Typically, you will need at least three references when you apply to a physical therapy school. One of your references should be a physical therapist. You may be able to use the same references for all of the schools to which you choose to apply.
    • Make sure whomever you ask knows you well enough to write you a great letter. You don't want to have mediocre letters of recommendation. You want to stand out against the rest of the thousands of students who apply to PT school each year.
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    Write a great admission essay. Most applications will ask for an admissions essay. In your essay, you want to convince the admission board what makes you the best candidate for their school. Talk about your experiences in the field, the coursework that you completed to prepare you for an advanced degree, and how hard you will work in the program. Also express why you want to be a physical therapist, what the profession means to you, and what your future goals are.
    • Essays can set you apart from other applicants who may have taken similar courses, have similar GPAs, and similar experience to you. The essay can make you more approachable and attractive to the admissions board.[13]
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    Apply to more than one school. Although each school most likely requires an application fee, you will increase your chances of getting into a school if you apply to three to five schools. If you get into more than one, you can choose which school you like best.
    • Be meticulous in the application process. Avoid typos and ask your friends to proof your work. You may also ask for pointers from any physical therapists that you have worked for. Provide all the paperwork needed as requested, or your application may be overlooked.
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    Keep trying. If you don't get in on your first try, don't give up. It is a really competitive field, and most programs turn away hundreds of students every year. You may want to broaden your base of schools that you apply to each year, in order to help your chances of being admitted.
    • It may take a few tries to get in to the program you want, but don't lose hope.
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    Get additional experience. While you wait for the next round of applications to come around, get more experience with licensed physical therapists to ensure that you have more experience and can add more to your application the next time around. Make sure you have varied settings such as rehab, outpatient, hospital and home health.
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    Practice your interviewing skills. Even if you do not get invited to interview for the school(s) you applied to, it is a good idea to practice mock interviews with seasoned interviewers. Preferably do this with a practicing P.T. that helps with the interviews, or the faculty that performs interviews. Their feedback will be invaluable. There are books on Amazon and Nook that delve further into the intricacies needed to make you a successful applicant.

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